It’s that time of year again; fans are pulling their dusty jerseys out of the closet, analyzing last season’s stats in order to figure out who they’re going to draft in the first round of their fantasy league and trying to nab tickets to their teams season opener. Ah yes, the NHL season is just around the corner my friends. Every fan out there is asking himself the same question; how will my team do this year? Were the moves made in the off-season good or bad? etc.
When it comes to the Washington Capitals, nothing seems to be much different from last season. The main players on the team are all still in the formation and no big changes were made in the off-season. The only thing we can rely on for speculation are the stats from the previous season and how the playoffs went.
When it comes to the statistical analysis from last season, the Capitals look like absolutely nothing could come between them and the Stanley Cup. With a record of 54 wins and only 15 regulation losses, this team looks like a gigantic steamroller in the Eastern Conference. On average, they out-shot and out-scored their opponents by a margin of at least one and had the best powerplay in the league by a long shot. The only aspect that seemed to be lacking in this formation was the penalty-kill, which can be described as sub-par at best(the Caps finished 25th in the league, just ahead of Edmonton.) Overall, this kind of analysis shows that the upcoming season should be a good one as long as everyone stays healthy.
On the other hand, if we look at how the playoffs went for the Capitals last year, the conclusion drawn is a very different one. The Montreal Canadians showed the world that the Capitals can easily be shut down if everyone focuses on their roles. For example, Hall Gill and Josh Gorges simply annihilated Ovechkin on the ice. He never had any breathing room whatsoever and was rarely allowed to carry the puck into the offensive zone. Furthermore, the Habs decided to play man-to-man defense during that series and effectively shut down the other snipers such as Backstrom and Semin. To top it all off, Jaroslav Halak was absolutely dominant, allowing his team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the series and beat the Capitals on their own turf. That series showed us that maybe the Caps need to have a more diverse offensive system in order to be able to adapt to the opposing teams defensive strategies.
To conclude, I expect the Caps to roll over the competition just like they did last season. Whether you like it or not, you can’t deny the fact that the Capitals are arguably the most offensively stacked team in the NHL. Their defense is sometimes lacking but they more than make up for it with ridiculous amount of pucks they put in the net. What will make or break this season’s lineup is their performance in the post-season. The fact that every playoff round this team has been in since Boudreau took over went to 7 games is ridiculous. They should be able to cruise through the first couple of rounds with a roster like theirs. Only time will tell.
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Written by Philippe Lemire